NPR's Book of the Day

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In need of a good read? Or just want to keep up with the books everyone's talking about? NPR's Book of the Day gives you today's very best writing in a snackable, skimmable, pocket-sized podcast. Whether you're looking to engage with the big questions of our times – or temporarily escape from them – we've got an author who will speak to you, all genres, mood and writing styles included. Catch today's great books in 15 minutes or less.

  • 8 minutes 41 seconds
    In 'Beautiful Days,' Zach Williams ponders parenthood, reality and the uncanny
    Zach Williams' collection of short stories, Beautiful Days, has earned high praise for the unsettling way it examines mundane, everyday life. In today's episode, Williams tells NPR's Sacha Pfeiffer how becoming a dad inspired the anxiety and wonder of parenthood that shows up throughout Beautiful Days, and the two get to talking about why he chose to focus on the "quickness and musicality" of short stories over writing a novel.

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    15 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 19 minutes 54 seconds
    Two books dive into the musical histories of The Police and Joni Mitchell
    Today's episode is about two emblematic musicians who take us to very different parts of the globe, from the London punk scene to the Laurel Canyon utopia of the 1960s and 70s. First, Stewart Copeland speaks to NPR's Leila Fadel about his memoir, Stewart Copeland's Police Diaries, which chronicles his time as a drummer for the legendary band. Then, Here & Now's Robin Young is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, who's written a biography of Joni Mitchell's expansive career called Traveling.

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    12 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 11 minutes 19 seconds
    In 'Other Rivers,' Peter Hessler chronicles his return to Chinese classrooms
    Foreign correspondent Peter Hessler taught in China during the country's economic boom in the 1990s, which he wrote about in his book River Town. Now, in Other Rivers, Hessler breaks down what it was like to teach there again more than two decades later. In today's episode, he and NPR international correspondent Emily Feng talk about what changed — and what stayed the same — with a new generation of students in China and how covering the country remains a challenge for so many writers and journalists.

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    11 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 10 minutes 40 seconds
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveils her vision for American democracy in 'True Gretch'
    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a new memoir out – it's about the people and experiences that shaped her version of leadership. Whitmer has led her state through a pandemic, natural disasters and the battle over reproductive rights, among many other issues. In today's episode, she speaks with NPR's Juana Summers about True Gretch: What I've Learned About Life, Leadership, and Everything in Between, her steadfast support for President Biden during his bid for reelection, and how she sees her future in the Democratic party.

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    10 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 9 minutes 29 seconds
    'Devil Is Fine' explores race, colonialism and grief through magical realism
    Devil Is Fine, the new novel by John Vercher, follows an unnamed protagonist banging out a book pitch in a fugue state that mirrors what's happening in his own life: after the death of his son, a biracial writer inherits a plantation from the white side of his family, which has the remains of both his slave-owning ancestors and the people they enslaved. In today's episode, Vercher speaks with NPR's Lauren Frayer about why he felt magical realism made the story about American history and loss and racism more accessible, and how different layers of grief manifest in the story.

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    9 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 9 minutes 10 seconds
    'At the Edge of Empire' traces China's history through Edward Wong's family
    The central character of New York Times correspondent Ed Wong's memoir, At the Edge of Empire, is not Wong himself — it's his father, who studied in Beijing in the 1950s and staunchly supported the Chinese Communist Revolution. Wong's book traces his father's disillusionment with Mao's government and eventual move to the U.S. In today's episode, he speaks with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly about intertwining his family's personal story with the greater history of his parents' home country, and what Americans can still stand to learn about Chinese citizens.

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    8 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 19 minutes 8 seconds
    Kevin Kwan explores race and identity in 'Sex and Vanity' and 'Lies and Weddings'
    Today's episode features two interviews with Kevin Kwan, author of the Crazy Rich Asians series. First, former NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke to the writer in 2020 about Sex and Vanity, exploring identity through the lens of a biracial character and setting a new trilogy between Europe and the U.S. Then, Here & Now's Robin Young asks Kwan about his newest novel, Lies and Weddings, and his thoughts on the fascination with wealth and power in literature.

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    5 July 2024, 10:40 am
  • 7 minutes 45 seconds
    A new book examines Alexander Hamilton's plan for public debt
    Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, is somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon thanks to a hit musical about his life. But a new book called The Hamilton Scheme dives into a less-known part of Hamilton's legacy — his vision for public debt. In today's interview, author and historian William Hogeland speaks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about why Hamilton considered higher loans to be paid by the federal government a good thing, and how that can be traced to today's relationship between China and the United States.

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    4 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    In 'Do I Know You?,' a science reporter tackles her own face blindness
    When science reporter Sadie Dingfelder mistakes a complete stranger in the supermarket for her own husband, she realizes something's up. The tests and research that follow result in a face blindness diagnosis and her new book, Do I Know You?. In today's episode, she speaks with NPR's Ayesha Rascoe about the different experiences of consciousness everyone has, and how understanding the brain's capacities opens up a whole new world of neurodiversity.

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    3 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 8 minutes 53 seconds
    Yangsze Choo's 'The Fox Wife' explores gender, murder and folklore in the 1900s
    Yangsze Choo says she doesn't thoroughly plan out her novels – her newest, The Fox Wife, blossomed from that core idea behind the title, of a woman who also happens to be a fox. But beyond that, it's a story about a mother avenging her child, about a murder investigation in early 20th century China, and about family curses. As the author tells NPR's Scott Simon, foxes hold a wide range of intrigue and mystery in Chinese, Korean and Japanese legends — and it's these traits that broke open a whole world of secrets for her characters.

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    2 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 7 minutes 46 seconds
    Kara Swisher's memoir 'Burn Book' reflects on a career covering Silicon Valley
    Journalist Kara Swisher, who's been covering the internet and the tech industry for decades, says she's not surprised when people like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk lie to her — but what she says they sometimes don't realize is how much they lie to themselves. Her new memoir, Burn Book, recounts what she's learned in conversation with some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley. In today's episode, Swisher tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that as disillusioned as she is with how much harm the industry has caused, she's still optimistic about the future of tech and AI.

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    1 July 2024, 7:00 am
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